Good morning folks. The world lost a rare gem two days ago, a true champion and world leader. Africa’s very own, that was on thursday 5th December 2013. I know a lot of people have said things idolizing him, I just want to put a few bars out there, say my piece… so here goes nothing:
Darkness pervaded the land
Fraught our lines with holes
Visions unsightly we see
For blinded we were by the sea black
Desperate for help and direction
You arose and got our election
For the promise of light imagined
The unity you heralded
Rohlilahla, you came and troubled the darkness
Until the light had no answer but come
You bid our eyes open and our hearts
You touched us, leaving a bit of you
Sleep Madiba sleep,
A true father, a loving friend, rest
This long walk has been tiring.
For Madiba (Nelson Rohlilahla Mandela Jul 18, 1918 to Dec 5, 2003)
‘Thank God!’ Justin fell to his knees.
Akeem rolled over and was almost on his feet when Justin jumped, catching him mid air and both men tumbled on the beach sand. Akeem fought to break Justin’s hold on him kicking his leg viciously in order to push Justin away. Justin held on to Akeem’s legs, and crawled up his body quickly. He pinned Akeem on the sand sitting on Akeem’s chest with a hand full of sand in his palm.
‘Another movement and I’ll blind you.’
The calm look on his face warned Akeem that Justin may just carry out his threat. He remained still, then asked, ‘who are you?’
‘My name is Justin Amadi, and I need your help.’
‘Ah!’ Akeem smiled. ‘You have a very cool way of showing it.’
‘Promise me you won’t start anything irrational?’ Justin said holding Akeem’s gaze.
Akeem paused, studied Justin’s features in the darkness, then nodded. ‘I promise. Now, let me go.’
Justin rose slowly off Akeem’s chest, rolling to his left, then standing up quickly. Akeem was also up by the time he faced the computer hack. Both men stood facing each other, contemplating their next line of action. Each willed the other to make a move, do something stupid. Not one of them moved. Muscles frayed, nerves on edge, they waited. They didn’t have to wait long though.
The piercing sound of the siren broke the silence as they could see the powerful light beams illuminating the beach from a distance. Akeem turned, ‘friends of yours?’
‘I came alone.’ Justin shook his head.
‘Then I suggest we get the hell out of here before they find us. Unless of course, you wanna introduce yourself, in which case I’m gone.’ Akeem started sprinting off.
‘Wait!’ Justin called after him and also broke into a run. They ran purposefully and in silence for more than ten minutes on the beach sand before stopping. Justin was already out of breath having pushed himself hard to keep up with Akeem who didn’t seem to have any problem after the run. ‘What’s all that about na? I almost fainted back there.’
‘Really? That would have been so cool.’ Akeem mocked him. ‘Anyway, I hope you’re not too winded to swim?’
Justin raised his head and stared at Akeem in the darkness. He wouldn’t have seen the other man’s face but for the light from the moon that showed a crescent. ‘Swim!’ He almost screamed, ‘at this time of the night? Dude, are you loco? There’s no way I’m getting into the water. We need to find alternate route.’ He was still panting.
‘Your funeral then. Say hi to the policemen for me, will ya?’ Akeem ran and dove into the water before Justin could say a word. Justin stared, his mouth agape watching as Akeem started swimming away from him. ‘Oh, I’ll be damned!’ He swore, then tore after Akeem. He ran into the water, running until the water and the sand teamed up to remove traction from his feet. He found that moving forward was a huge struggle, then reflexively, he jumped in the water, diving forward.
They swam for almost twenty minutes before getting to Akeem’s boat. Akeem was already stripping, ditching his wet clothes when Justin climbed the ladder on to the boat’s deck. He watched Akeem for a while, shrugged, then reluctantly began to unbutton his shirt. A strange thought occurred to him then: he had missed swimming to the Atlantic ocean from Tarkwa Bay earlier that day, only to be made to swim nonetheless in the ocean. He snapped out of his reverie just in time to see Akeem duck under the deck. He tried to follow, but froze at the entrance.
Akeem was holding a Walther PPK 9mm pistol in his hand. The gun was levelled at Justin as Akeem began to climb back onto the deck. He smiled when he got back to the deck. ‘Okay Justin, time to share your tale. And you better not try anything funny. I assure you this gun will puncture a huge hole in your chest at this proximity.’
Justin shrugged. ‘I’ve told you the truth, I need your help. A fraud was committed at my firm, unfortunately I’m the one left holding the bag.’
‘You mean you’re the victim?’ Akeem corrected.
‘No, I’m the fall guy. I didn’t have anything to do with the fraud. I honestly thought…’
‘Honestly thought?’ Akeem raised a brow. ‘Tell me dude, do you work in the financial services sector? A bank maybe?’
Justin smiled. ‘Better. I work at a stockbroking firm. One of the best in the country actually.’
‘Right! Those pussies who play games with other peoples money eh? Look here son, go home. It’s about time someone taught those dudes a lesson.’
‘I’m not disputing that. All I’m saying is, please help me get my life back. I could walk away. I just need to not have to look over my shoulder all the rest of my life. Can you help me?’ Justin slowly raised up his hands.
Akeem mulled over what he had heard. Justin seemed sincere and there was nothing to make him doubt the man standing before him. He lowered the gun slowly, and motioned for Justin to come. Then he turned round and started climbing down the stairs, going below the deck again. This time, Justin followed him.
‘Normally, I’d knee-cap you for what you did to me on the beach, but seeing as you’re a sorry case, I’ll make today my magnanimous day and help you.’ Akeem brought out a laptop computer and switched it on. The operating system was nothing like Justin had ever seen before. He marvelled at the design and perfomance speed.
‘What OS is this?’ Justin asked before he could stop himself.
‘My OS. You didn’t expect I’d use windows, ubuntu or the mac now, did you? First rule in my line of work, be invisible. The day someone sees you, you’re dead. Now I don’t mean to be overly dramatic here but you don’t go far in this business without creating custom applications for yourself.’ He smiled briefly before entering some command prompts on tha laptop. ‘Voila!’ His smile broadened. ‘Now, what did you call the name of the company again?’
Justin told him.
Akeem’s face became ashen in an instant. The smile disappeared quicker than it had appeared. ‘Who are you? Really?’ He reached for the Walther and pointed it at Justin again, this time, his visage was deadly.
Justin’s hand instinctively went up. He was not ready to die for a fraud he hadn’t committed. ‘I told you already. I was telling the truth then, as I am now. My name’s Justin. I came to you because I was told you’re the only person that can help me. My saviour so to speak.’
Akeem mulled the words over in his head, weighing his options. Justin did not seem bold enough to do anything that warranted the irrational move of shooting. ‘So, how did you find me, who sent you?’
‘Jide Martins. He told he you were the guy…’
Akeem didn’t allow Justin finish before dropping the gun on the table and typing furiously. ‘Damn, damn!’ He swore as he started punching the enter button furiously.
‘Is anything the problem?’ Justin asked alarmed.
‘Yes. You.’ Akeem closed the laptop, and grabbed it off the table. ‘If you know what’s best for you, follow me.’ He had already moved past Justin.
Justin contemplated using the Walther lying harmlessly on the desk to get information from Akeem. However, he realised that whatever made the computer hack abandon his threat and run wasn’t something he wanted to take with levity. He ran after Akeem. As he pushed his way onto the deck of the boat, he saw Akeem throwing the laptop into the sea. ‘No! Whatever did you do that for?’
Akeem looked at him long and hard. ‘I said follow me, I never said question me.’ With that, he dove into the water again and started swimming.
Justin threw up his hands. This dude just couldn’t make things less complex. Run, swim, rest a little and they were back to swimming again. He wondered if they were training for a triathlon event. He didn’t stay aboard long though. The calm waves of the sea started growing rapidly. Then he heard the sound of a speeding boat approaching. He needed no further invitation, he dove into the sea and swam after Akeem.
He had barely swam for two minutes when their boat exploded in fiery wooden bits. He swam to Akeem’s side in the water as they both stared at the boat that was now burning brightly, as it slowly sank to the bottom of the sea. The fire illuminated their heads and left them exposed to anyone with a keen eye. Akeem breathed in deeply and dove underwater. Justin followed his lead and both men viewed what was happening on the sea with their breaths held underwater.
The boat circled their location slowly, searching for survivors. When it was determined no one survived the blast, the boat turned around and sped off leaving a wake of rough waves in its path.
Justin was first to break the water surface. He gasped for air, and sank like a lead. He caught himself and swam back up. He coughed loudly as he struggled to stay afloat.
‘Glad you finally made it son. Good for you.’ Akeem mocked.
Rage welled up in Justin. ‘You just tried to get me killed. I came to you for help, and you want to end me? What kind of sick person are you?’
‘Well sonny boy, if you check that sentence, you would realise what’s wrong. I didn’t set you up, you did. And you almost got us both killed too. Now, if you’ll follow me we have an adventure to complete.’ He turned away and started swimming. Justin didn’t need to be told twice. He swam after Akeem.
Ugochi got home after dropping off Segun at his busstop. Her mind was in turmoil as she got out of the car and walked slowly up the stairs to her room. She was about opening the door when her mother stopped her. ‘Hey, I thought you would be gone till tomorrow, what happened?’ Mrs Agatha Ezenmadu asked her daughter slowly walking towards Ugochi. She stopped short of her daughter and peered into her eyes.
‘Eewo! What did they do to you!’ Her voice was rising.
‘Nothing mama,’ Ugochi cast furtive glances across the lobby. She opened her door quickly and dragged her mother into the room with her. ‘Mama, it’s not what you think. I’ve been thinking a lot is all.’
‘Thinking? Is that what made your eyes all puffy and red?’ Mrs Agatha Ezenmadu did a quick scan of her daughter turning her around to see if there were any visible marks on her. ‘Chi moo! What have you been thinking about that’s made you cry so much?’ She hugged Ugochi and held her there.
Ugochi had had enough. She knew instinctively that she had to defuse the bomb that was her mother, otherwise she would have very little privacy in the house over the weekend as her every move would be scrutinised. ‘I wrote a bad report, the client lost some money. That’s all.’ She lied breaking free of her mother’s hold.
‘Is that why you’re now crying? How much did the person lose?’
‘Two million Naira ma.’
Mrs Ezenmadu mulled it over, ‘do you think we should repay the customer? So that your reputation may be intact?’
‘That won’t be necessary mama, like I said, I’ve been thinking. I’ve found a way to make back the loss and even double the investment at the end of the month.’ Ugochi forced a smile. ‘It’s nothing. Really.’
Mrs Agatha Ezenmadu left the room after reassuring herself that her daughter was all right. Ugochi locked the door after her mother. She walked slowly to her bed, her shoulders slumped. As she started another bout of silent weeping on her pillow, her phone rang. Thinking it might Justin, she cleared her eyes, composed herself then picked up the phone. The caller ID showed Justin.
‘Hey love,’ she answered cheerily. ‘What’s the update now?’
There was silence on the other side of the connection for a while, then a strange voice answered. ‘My name is inspector Bala, I’m with the Nigerian Police Force. I’m sorry, but I have bad news to report.’
‘No!’ Ugochi screamed as the phone in her hand dropped to the floor bouncing a few time before it came to a stop. In that time, Ugochi had fallen backward onto her bed, and fainted.
© Derin Gbadebo 2013